This is the key question you have to be really clear about as it will shape and frame your entire project. (It’s actually two connected questions).
There is a difference between business objectives and research objectives. To get to research objectives, you have to ask
- What decisions have to be made in order to achieve the business objective?
- What types of information will be useful to support those decisions?
And then you will get to higher level objectives, that don’t really translate into questions you could ask of a respondent. To get to those, you will need to consider the research issue from a number of different perspectives.
What is the relevant behaviour and what drives it?
Is it rational, emotional, social or cultural?
How habitual is it? How could it be changed?
What is the context for the behaviour?
What conscious and unconscious cues might affect it?
What cognitive biases might be in operation?
What is the competitive context? What alternatives are there?
What are the needs and ambitions, personal and social?
What are their fears and anxieties – what pushes them away?
What are their beliefs and understanding about the product area, your organisation / product / service? What are these founded on? What is accurate and what is hearsay or myth?
What sources of information do people have – formal and informal?
How trustworthy or influential are they? In what ways?
How does your offer map out in terms of rewards/gains versus effort/ drawbacks/ potential losses? This would include pricing and value for money, if relevant.
What in your offer are people drawn to and why? What are the emotional benefits or consequences of what you are proposing?
How much do they believe what you are saying?
How do you best communicate with them – what channels, what strategies? How do you best engage?
What are the longer term implications for the organisation or brand?
For more information on how to move on from the business or research question download: How to get from business objectives to research questions